Studying abroad is an exciting enticement until the housing you are staying in is far away from campus or in a shady part of town. Reader’s Digest quotes Depart Smart founder, Sheryl Hill, on hotel safety standards in a January 2019 article.

“Even if your hotel meets all of your preliminary standards, it’s still unfortunately not a guarantee that it’ll be the perfect home away from home. Some other warning signs are only apparent once you’ve walked through the door. While most hotels do take safety seriously, the sad truth is that there are always bad eggs. For instance, keep an eye on the reception desk. “Unattended after-hours reception areas with main doors unlocked”—even if it’s located in a safer-seeming area—are a big red flag, says Sheryl Hill, Executive Director of the travel safety organization Depart Smart. Another red flag? Look for the keyless security latch or chain on the inside of the door. If there’s none there, or if it’s broken, that’s a good sign that safety may not be as much of a priority as you’d like it to be.”

Sheryl has more to say on the subject:

Fire Alarms

Do they exist?  Are they working?  Locate the fire escape exit – count the doors to be sure you can find the exit if you have to evacuate and your vision is impaired by smoke.

Up My Street

Use Street View on Google Maps – to make certain the advertised images match the real world, or to check that undesirables are close by – like garbage trucks and sanitation tanks, for example.

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite

The establishment or hotel is listed in the Bed Bug registry – eww,  Use a flashlight and shine the light near the headboard to check for bed bugs.  You might purchase a European Sleep Sack to sleep in to shield your skin from bed bug bites.

Secure Entry

Unattended after-hours reception areas with main doors unlocked are a sure sign the building is not secure. Always check for a keyless bolt lock on the inside of your room. Is it damaged one?  Carry a door wedge or travel lock like Addalock to prevent anyone with a key from getting in while you sleep. This is particularly important with keyless locks that use preprogrammed cards.  Check the desk security.  Go down and tell them you locked yourself out of your room to see if they reissue with no questions asked.  That’s a red light warning!

Clean Carpets

Nasty carpets usually mean nasty sheets and towels and coffee cups. Old can be clean. Never use the cups in the room unless they are individually wrapped paper ones or you see fresh cups on the housekeeper’s cart. Otherwise, they are more than likely unsanitarily cleaned. Nasty room leftovers – like trash in the can, hairballs on the carpet, paper on the desk, et al.

Poor Tech

Need WiFi? You want to make sure the technology is updated and that it is password protected.

To get your super skills so you can travel like a HERO when you go abroad, take Travel HEROES Safety Certification and build your emergency plan. Peace of mind, like your life, is priceless.